Concert Review: Those Darlins / Turbo Fruits / Henry Wagons – Beachland Tavern – Cleveland, OH – 09/21/2010

Face it, the Beachland Tavern was really not that heavily packed last night, but every music lover that set foot in that bar for the Those Darlins / Turbo Fruits / Henry Wagons show all were treated to an amazing evening of music.

Three bands with three different backgrounds played the small stage not caring one bit how many tickets were sold. They were there to rock out and have fun with their fans, and that is exactly what happened.

It’s been about a year since Nashville’s Those Darlins graced Cleveland with their beauty, not to mention their amazing music making abilities.  The ladies had a rough start to the summer when one of the Darlins took a tumble at a Southern Ohio music festival breaking her arm.  This was just a small set back but their ladies (and drummer Lynn) had to take an unwanted break.  Just a few months later the band regrouped, recorded a second album to be released in 2011, and hit the road doing what they love to do best.

If anyone knows something about the man behind BHP (you know, the guy who writes all this stuff) it is one thing: BHP hearts Those Darlins.  I saw them 4 times alone last year.  Overly impressed with their sound and live show-woman-ship, I never missed a show.  Needless to say when I discovered they were coming back to the Beachland, I made plans to be there.  I was excited to see them and hear perhaps a new song or two (more on that in a bit) but what I did not expect was the surprise that was the opening act, a man named Henry Wagons.

The moment I walked into the tavern I looked at the stage and there he was, a 6-foot tall Australian man with an acoustic guitar in hand.  With shaggy hair, glasses, mustache and a sweet green headband he was already playing a song to the minimal crowd that seemed to suckle around the edges of the bar.  He sung with an outlaw country vibe that immediately caught my attention.  I felt I was listening to an Aussie version of Waylon Jennings but also had an amazing sense of humor.  He called out the crowd a few times, made reference to the longest walk ever he experienced at Cleveland-Hopkins Airport and ended his songs with comedic heavily acted strums to his guitar.

Playing his own rendition of Kenny Roger’s “The Gambler”, or so he said, the crowd went crazy for it.  I laughed when Henry Wagons said just before playing the song , “I wanna be like Kenny Rogers in another 10 to 15 years,” and also commenting that he lacks the silver-lining at the current moment.  Another track he played had him screaming “Willie Nelson” over and over, it was amazing.

The winning song of his set to me was a cover of “Never Been To Spain”, a classic Elvis song that was in fact, not written by Elvis.  While playing his set he commented that he was just one man from his band back home called Wagons and that it was his first trip to the states as well as his first night with Those Darlins and Turbo Fruits.  After taking to his manager, who was touring with him later in the evening, I learned that they could not afford to have the whole band come over this time around but hope to change that next time they go on tour.  After buying a Wagons CD after his set and listening to it on the way home all I have to say is this: I can not wait till Wagons plays the states.  The CD is incredible.

Up next was another Nashville act called Turbo Fruits.  They were a blend of Nashville and Detroit that was overly impressive, think Hank Williams meets Detroit Cobras.  They had 50’s riffs in some songs and dipped into a blues feel during other tracks that had me almost overanalyzing them at times.  My conclusion of them was simple though, they were a kick ass band that really put on a show.  I especially enjoyed “Dreams For Sale” and “Volcano” and even went so far as to grabbing their LP after the show to check them out some more.

Finally the headliners of the evening, Those Darlins, took to the stage.  This time around there were five folk on stage, the three Darlins, drummer Lynn, and some other dude.  One would assume that they have a touring guitarist to help out with their shows or perhaps even help Nikki Darlin with some of the guitar duties seeing how she did break her arm in half as mentioned earlier.

Regardless, Those Darlins wasted no time jumping into their set starting off with “Who’s That Knocking At My Window”, a familiar track to most of the crowd.  They sounded just as amazing as the previous times I saw them, if not better.  They looked happy to be up on the stage and aimed to make sure all were going to have a good time.

Things soon changed for the good when the band decided to play a series of new songs from their upcoming release.  With no setlist guiding their performance the girls would shout out the names of the songs and jump into them.  Playing tracks like “Boys”, “Be A Brother”, and “Waste Away” it was clear that their sound had taken a turn from the country/punk feel their first album displayed so well.

Their new material mixed up 70’s rock with indie rock yet did not drop the sound where they came from.  It was a good sound that all in the house went crazy for.  I know I am not the only one excited for their upcoming release.  To make matters even better, Lynn was providing back-up vocals on some of the tracks while Nikki focused on her singing duties losing the guitar.  Every time the girls announced a new song was being played the crowd just stood their in great anticipation for what was going to come next.  I can honestly admit that there was not one new song they played that I did not like and I was not the only one who felt that way.  These girls were turning heads at the Beachland and it was not just from their good looks.

Wrapping up their set they played “Red Light Love”, “Wild One” and “Night Jogger”, a new track off their recently released 7″ split with Funsticks, a Jesse Darlin and Lynnwood side project.  Making things even more fun they played the Funsticks song that appears on the 45 as well.  Yeah, I might have picked one of those up al well…

This was one of the better shows I have been to as a whole seeing that I enjoyed all three bands that played.  I can not even tell you the last time that I was this entertained by acts I had never heard of before.  I went in there looking for a country/rock night and left with a whole other experience.  Henry Wagons and the new material by Those Darlins were the major winners for me.

To think I almost skipped out on that show too.  I am so glad I talked myself out of it.  Totally worth it.

Contest: Win A Pair Of Tickets To The 9/21 Those Darlins Show & Their Night Jogger 7″!!!

Update: Contest is CLOSED!  Congrats to Gretchen for snagging up the Those Darlins prize pack courtesy of Oh Wow Dang Records!  Have fun at the show!!!


I have a pair of tickets to the upcoming Those Darlins show at the Beachland Tavern on 9/21 for one lucky winner.  I will also toss in freshly pressed copy of the their recently released Night Jogger 7″ as well.  See below for how to win…

Those Darlins are back at it again.  The trio of fine, fun ladies and drummer Lynn are back on the road looking for a good time nightly in various cities across the good ol’ USA.  Recently the band dropped a split 7″ featuring a new Those Darlins track on one side and a Funstix track on the other.  This is just a small taste of their new album which is scheduled to drop in early 2011.

Head over to the Those Darlins revamped web page for a listen at both tracks and even score yourself a free download of “Night Jogger” for a limited time.

Better yet demand that all of your friends head up to the Beachland Tavern with you on 9/21 to check out these country/punk darlings and Turbo Fruit.  It is going to be a good time and your help is needed to bring the party.  If you do not, you are missing out.  How do I know?  Because I have been there, done that, and would not mind doing it all over again – in fact I will be there (please hold your comments).  Their shows are not to be missed so just get your butt up there ok?

So how do you win?

All you have to do is comment below and make sure you enter a valid email address.  One winner will be chosen randomly to win a pair of tickets to the 9/21 Cleveland show and a 7″ of Night Jogger.

This is for the Cleveland, Ohio show only so I need to keep this contest local.  This contest was made possible buy the amazing folk at Oh Wow Dang Records.  I will pick a winner on this Saturday Monday evening, so hurry up and throw down a comment!!!

Tour Dates (in case you were wondering…):

SEPTEMBER:
9/10 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl #
9/11 – Asheville, NC – The Grey Eagle #
9/12 – Myrtle Beach, SC – Island Bar
9/14 – Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506 #
9/15 – Washington DC – Black Cat #
9/16 – New York City – Bowery Ballroom #
9/17 – Cambridge, MA – T.T. the Bear’s #
9/18 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl #
9/19 – Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie (early show) #
9/19 – Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie (late show) #
9/21 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland Tavern $
9/22 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall $
9/23 – Pygmalion Festival – Champaign-Urbana
9/24 – Iowa City, IA – The Mill $
9/25 – Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon $
9/26 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue @ 7th St. Entry $
9/28 – Omaha, NE – Slowdown $
9/29 – Lincoln, NE – Lincoln Calling
9/30 – Kansas City, KS – The Record Bar $

OCTOBER:
10/2 – Louisville, KY – Headliners Music Hall
10/7 – Dallas, TX – Sons of Hermann Hall %
10/8 – Austin City Limits Festival
10/8 – ACL After Party @ Emo’s +
10/9 – Laredo, TX – Old No. 2

# W/The Strange Boys & Gentleman Jesse and His Men
$ W/Turbo Fruits
% W/The Soft Pack
+ w/The Black Lips

Fake Problems – Real Ghosts Caught On Tape – Album Review

There was a time and place when I liked the band Fake Problems because they sounded like some other band out there that I enjoyed that will remain unmentioned.  The similarities between them and this certain Gainsville, Fla. act I speak of were clear but never to be considered a rip off, at least to my ears.  I soon learned of their hard working antics, their harsh stories while touring and most of all their passion for what they love to do.

I recall the first Fake Problems release as being an enjoyable punk/folk sing-a-long jam while the follow-up showed a clear change in their style.  Now dropping Real Ghosts Caught On Tape,their third full length release, Fake Problems really have evolved from a one time punk rock sounding band into a fine-sounding rock n roll outfit that impresses me on a few different levels.

Still kicking it with Side One Dummy Records, the Naples, Fla. foursome is back with all new material bordering on more of an indie-rock feel without letting go of their roots.  There is this major fun change though that is heard throughout making me think that Fake Problems has pointed their style in a different direction almost hinting back to the 60’s.   Real Ghosts contains 11 toe tapping songs that will easily compliment any good day you are having.

The opening “ADT” won me over immediately.  I loved the drum playing, the white-collar rock n roll strums and of course the, dare I say, heartfelt lyrics.  It was easily the catchiest song on the track.  Following was “5678”, a more dance-causing, Electric Six sounding, jam worthy of multiple listens.  Again, another catchy track especially with the “everybody’s clapping along” chorus.

It’s not all about the fun though on the album, just listen to the lyrics on “Songs For Teenagers”, a beautifully done tune but with a saddened message about letdowns, suicide contemplation and drug use.  “Soulless” on the other hand was fun-major, if that makes sense, with tons of energy slapped into the 60’s-ish, girl doo-whopping track Phil Spector would even enjoy (I have the feeling I am not the only one who has said that but oh well…).

Real Ghosts is well written from start to finish and if anything, the band has proved on how they have matured as musicians.  With hints towards So.Cal. indie-rock and sandy beach jams they have not forgeotten where they came from.  Real Ghosts is a whole more fun and a lot more mainstream friendly than their priors, but don’t be too quick to throw that “sellout” label at them.

In a sense sellouts happen because it there is a certain element that grabs attention – it happens all the time if you think about it (i.e. Gaslight Anthem, Flogging Molly, 1/2 the bands on the Warped Tour).  Sure, sometimes bands throw in a huge twist to earn more green in their wallets but this is not the case with Fake Problems.  They are a fun and hardworking act that dropped a great, fun album aimed at anyone out there who is looking for a upbeat and catchy album to listen to.

Let’s Talk About Weezer…

September 14th is right around the corner and if you are a Weezer fan like I am you know that it is the day that Hurley will be released on Epitaph Records.  This will be the band’s first release on an independent label in their 17 years as a band.  Focusing on the rock over the pop this round the album has grabbed my attention in a major way.  See for yourself – head over to www.myspace.com/weezer and listen to Hurley in its entirety.  You can also download their first single entitled “Memories” courtesy of Spinner.com.

The album title, if you have not figured it out yet, comes from one of the more memorable characters from one of the greatest TV series of my time, Lost, and might just be my favorite Weezer cover ever.  Have you even seen the cover for Hurley yet?

Yeah, that is great.  Jorge Garcia spoke to MTV recently on how he felt about being the inspiration for the latest release.  As much as I despise MTV I did get a kick out of reading his reaction on his mug being on an album cover.

Here is a video from Spin.com with what looks like a very happy Rivers Cuomo:

Swingin’ Utters / The Menzingers / The Facials – Rockstar – Cleveland, OH – 08/27/2010 – Concert Review

Friday night the punk rockers took over Rockstar in Cleveland.  The small, and I mean small, venue that which lies on top of Peabody’s, hosted an intimate night of punk rock goodness with help from The Swingin’ Utters and The Menzingers as well as a couple of local acts including The Facials.  Regardless of size fans of all of the bands filled up the joint and were treated to an evening of fast, fun, and furious music.

The Facials

Openers SmyD (oh, NOW I get it…) were local and sounded just like Against Me!.  It was not a bad thing at all until I noticed that the lead singer had matching…Against Me! tattoos on his shoulder blades.  Still not a terrible thing, but enough to cause a momentary distraction to more than one onlooker.  Trying ever so hard to ignore the dual permanent tributes myself, I was able to enjoy their set even if there was a little too much talk and not so much rock going on from the lead singer.  Still, I would check them out again.  I took this opportunity to enjoy a nice tall refreshing PBR with my friends.

The Facials, another local act and good friend to BHP, hit up the stage next minus one.  Even though one of the band members could not make it to the show the band played on and did not sound that bad even if the back-up guitarist had three practices to learn all the bass lines.  Kudos to the vest wearing bandanna sporting musician for switching up duties.   Fans crept around the corner stage throughout the set and enjoyed their performance.  I took this opportunity to enjoy another nice cold tall refreshing PBR with my friends.  Do you see a trend here?  Well that was the extent of it, after all I did have to drive home.  I am responsible.

The Menzingers
The Menzingers

One of my favorite punk rock bands that I discovered this year, The Menzingers, finally were able to play a show for me.  After all the was the reason they came to Cleveland, for me (not really).  You see, earlier this year the band was supposed to play a show in Covington, KY but one of the band members succumbed to a nasty stomach virus and they had to make the difficult decision of canceling the show.  I was highly bummed out that I was unable to see them live but understood.  This time though all of the band members were in house at Rockstar and took to the stage for a very high energy and fun set.

Jumping around and having a good ol’ time the band played through a bunch of familiar songs including “I Was Born”, “Rivalries” (one of my faves), and “No We Didn’t” off their latest release Chamberlain Waits.  Their live stuff was move enjoyable to me than their studio material.  The boys just were so entertaining and the crowd was so into them screaming along to every song.  Music, friends, smiles, and singing – this is what a punk rock show is all about.

The Menzingers

I was thrilled to finally be up at the front of the stage watching this amazing band do their thing.  If that was not good enough, the band chatted with me throughout the night about everything from the Kentucky incident to the local punk house the Soggy Dog.  Greg and Tom were cool as hell and I can not wait till I run into them again.  I know, I sound like a freaking fanboy right now but in all honesty it is nice to meet a band that is happy to be in their surroundings and has no problem climbing the stripper pole with you.  If you have no idea what I am talking about, check out Rockstar next time you are in Cleveland.  Just don’t get too rowdy or else a mustache-clad bouncer might yell “settle down” at you and walk away… very effective I might mention.

Aside from that calamity there was in fact another performance by punk rock legends the Swingin’ Utters.  Even though I have been a fan of the Utters since I was a kid this was the first time I had ever seen them live and I could not be happier.  A little older and a lot wiser, the band took to the stage and put forth a killer set with lead singer Johnny Bonnel looking like he was feeling real good.  I say this not just because we were in a bar but also because in the middle of the set he screamed “piss break” and stumbled off the stage into the crowd and made a b-line for the men’s room.  It was hilarious.

Wost Pic Ever...
Wost Pic Ever...

Breaking into tracks like “Five Lessons”, “Windspitting Punk”, and one of my favorites “The Next In Live” the 20+ year old band sounded much better than I was anticipating.  It was amusing to see Spike Slawson up on stage too as I mostly know him for his cover act Me First and the GImme GImmes.  I should comment too that he looked like she shed some pounds since the last time I saw him.  Sporting thick rimmed glasses and what looked like an army issued jacket Spike looked calm and reserved throughout the set. He was perhaps the only one who maintained composure of some sort as the rest of the band, and the crowd for that matter, jumped and thrashed about while flinging beers and fists in the air.  Oh yes, it was a punk rock show for sure.

There was no encore for the night by the Utters.  They finished their set and exited the stage to an adoring crowd of longtime hardcore fans.  That was about the time I exited the Rockstar to get some air.  Looking around everyone had that look of satisfaction on their faces, you know, the one where you just witnessed something really really good.  Not sure when the Utters will make a trip back to Cleveland but I did get a kick out of a Tweet one of the band members posted later in the evening:

I don’t really understand why people make fun of Cleveland. I think Cleveland is kinda awesome. Romantic, even.

Cleveland is kinda awesome.  Romantic?  Perhaps.  Being with great friends and some amazing bands however was just perfect and I would not have wanted to spend my Friday night any other way.